Sunday, 5 June 2011

Selling bearskins


Years ago, when we started or professional career, a wise mentor of ours told us something which has been invariably true.

“The most difficult task in a company like this is selling”, said he, and added “but the second most difficult one is to get the invoices paid for. And you need both to succeed".

At that time we were not old enough to really understand the importance of this teaching, and we were happy juniors that took all that for granted, and presumed fair play end to end.

After so many years, it is still surprising to notice companies which seem not to have learnt from their elders… and even more surprising to note that one of these companies is based in a country whose traditions and culture specifically teach respect and appreciation to their elders, and to all the experience and knowledge they own.

Interesting to note that it has been in EMEA, in their overseas operation, that the issues have popped up precisely. What makes us think that Europe still has a lot to learn from the Far East, and eventually European culture still clashes with Asian.

Particularly shameful for Spaniards… who seem fond of selling bearskins far too easily.


Faust 2.0


German culture and traditions are an intrinsic part of Europe’s History. As Europe may not be understood without Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Tolstoi, Dostoievsky, Balzac, Macchiavelli, Dumas, Locke… it could not either without Goethe, one of whose latest works was the story about Faust.

This is the story of a deal… an agreement, if you will… or in modern language, a Strategic Alliance. Faust was given 24 years of unlimited happiness by Mephistopheles in exchange of his immortal soul for eternity.

Immortal souls are often represented in art like auras or halos around their owners… Immortal souls which constitute the essence of their owners, like state-of-the-art products constitute the souls of leading technology companies.

Recently one German-led company has allowed its German head to sell off a significant portion of its immortal soul, or halo, in exchange of having its new partner serving as exclusive agent to HP for certain Universal Communications (UC) solutions. Probably the same way as Mephistopheles was the agent of Faust to grant the latter the appropriate deliverables for his ultimate happiness.

We do not really know what is included in the definition of happiness for our new version of Faust, but in fact it has not proven any kind of happiness to HP shareholders so far, as much as Faust’s original happiness did not really mean any happiness at all to poor Gretchen.

And we do not know either for how long this so-called happiness will last… Despite the original legends stipulated 24 years, our personal bet is that Faust 2.0 may enjoy 24 months, or eventually 24 weeks…